[soc.culture.nepal] Year of the Girl Child

kyig6809@uxa.cso.uiuc.edu (Ken Ilio) (12/18/90)

The sources of this article are:  The International Herald Tribune, 9/29-30/90
and Health Alert Oct 1990

An ancient Indian saying on the sex of children goes:  A boy is for wealth
a girl is for love."  According to Intercom, a UNICEF publication, the
desire for wealth almost always prevails.
While discrimination against girl children in the Philippines is not 
excessive, in other Asian countries such as Bangladesh, Bhutan, India,
the Maldives, Pakistan, Nepal and Sri Lanka, this discrimination is
acute.  The rise of modern technology has not helped to reduce this
discrimination - medical technology allows discrimination to start
even before birth.  An Indian government study shows that in Bombay,
out of 8000 abortions performed after amniocentesis, only one of the
fetuses was male.

The discrimination continues through childhood.  In terms of nutrition,
girl babies are breastfed less than males, and mothers often stop
breastfeeding early to conceive again, hopefully, a son.  Girls receive
minimal education, since they are only destined for domestic work and
child bearing.  Female survival rates are much lower than that of the
male, due to reproduction, domestic work, and harsher productive work.
Women often suffer death at childbirth because of stunted growth and
early and too-frequent pregnancies.

To focus attention to the inferior status of the female child with 
regard to health, nutrition and education, the South Asian Association
for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) has declared 1990 as the year of
the Girl Child.  SAARC countries plan to elevate the problem to the
highest levels of policy planning to improve the lot of all females.
These could include steps as: greater access to contraceptives in
rural areas; restructuring of school curricula to motivate parents
to send their daughters to school; public awareness campaigns on
the value of the girl child; and diversification of employment
opportunities for girls.


Ken Ilio
UIUC Vet. Biosciences